By Joe Guzzardi
December 11, 2011
In less than 600 words, I’ll explain to you why America has so few high paying jobs. If you can do basic math, you’ll have no trouble following along.
In 1990, George W. Bush signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act which introduced the modern version of the H-1B visa. Employers could hire up to 65,000 foreign-born nationals annually to work in the United States. Although commonly referred to as “temporary,” in truth the visa is permanent. The dual intent visa allows applicants agree to an initial three-year assignment after which another three year extension is automatically granted. While awaiting their permanent green cards, foreign nationals continue to work.
During the H-1B’s more than two decade existence, the annual cap has fluctuated between the original 65,000 to as high as 195,000. The 1990 Act also created three new visa categories like the H-1A, P and O, officially designated for artists, nurses, scientists and educators. The P, for example, allowed for 25,000 additional visas for the loosely defined “entertainment industry.”
Without chronicling the numerous visa cap adjustments over two decades, let’s assume that conservatively on average 100,000 foreign-born, legally authorized, permanent workers have come to America every year since 1990. Doing the math that’s a minimum of 2.1 million jobs which, unless you believe the nonsense that the United States has a shortage of qualified workers, might have gone to Americans but didn’t because of H-1B visas ready availability.
Today, despite relentless high national unemployment in all sectors, across all demographic categories and throughout all age groups, U.S. companies are hiring foreign-born workers at a furious pace. Business Insider reporter Julie Bort describes the corporate eagerness to hire non-U.S. workers as “tripping over themselves to fill high paying jobs with workers from overseas.”
According to Bort, corporate America has set a three-year record for the speed with which they reached the H-1B ceiling. Application submission for 2012 began on April 1 and by November 23, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services Department announced that all visas had been allocated. This year, Americans missed out on even more jobs. The USCIS received "more than 20,000 H-1B petitions filed on behalf of persons exempt from the cap under the ‘advanced degree’ exemption." Petitions for workers who already have already obtained their visas are not counted toward the cap.
Microsoft and IBM, major H-1B visa users and perennial offenders, quickly used up their total and are furiously lobbying Congress to increase or— better yet, in their opinion—altogether eliminate non-immigrant worker visa ceilings.
The H-1B shuts Americans out of excellent jobs. The average H-1B salary at Google is $103,129; at Oracle, $104,080 and at Microsoft, $96,497. The highest average salary, however, is earned at CVS Pharmacy, $115,000.
Despite the obvious harm the overly generous U.S. visa policy has done to Americans, Republicans and Democrats alike embrace the trend toward globalism—the U.S. workforce be dammed. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed (389-15) the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act that would lift the cap on worker-based immigrant visas.
Fortunately, concerned Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley placed a hold on the bill that gives beleaguered unemployed Americans a breather. If history is any guide, it will be a brief one.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Writing Fellow. His columns have been syndicated for 25 years. Contact him at [email protected]